no safe sun
When it comes to cancer danger, tanning beds are in the same category ascigarettes
The incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, has been steadily rising over the past 30 years. Here's a scary statistic: the deadly disease kills about 6,000 people a year.
Melanoma is truly a tragedy because it affects young people—it is the most common form of cancer among young adults ages 25 to 29 years, and the second most common cancer in the 15 to 29 age range. Unless it's caught early, melanoma often results in a painful death.
"Catching it early" translates into a five-year survival rate of 90- 95%. Five years hardly seems like a long time to most of us, especially if you're only 25. But that's how "survival" rates are determined; and melanoma is a funny cancer—it could pop back up 10, 15 or 20 years later. I know from experience.
My wife, like most of us who grew up long before sunblock came on the market, spent almost every summer at the beach, baking to get the perfect tan. Now, of course, we know that exposure to the sun's UV rays at an early age is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Ten years ago she had a melanoma removed from her leg. We thought she was in the clear when she remained cancer-free well beyond the 5 year survival time—but, lo and behold, the melanoma reared it's ugly head again two months ago. Soon, she may be fighting for her life; there's no cure for melanoma that has spread.
Fortunately, now we can prevent skin cancers like melanoma by limiting our exposure to natural (sunlight) or artificial (tanning bed) UV radiation. Unfortunately, this knowledge hasn't dampened our quest for the perfect tan, despite its potential tragic consequences. With more than one million customers a day, many large cities have more tanning salons than Starbucks or McDonalds restaurants!
And can you guess who their best customers are? Caucasian girls between the ages of 16 and 29. The bad news for these sun lamp worshippers is that their risk of melanoma increases 75% from indoor tanning before the age of 35. These tanning beds are of such concern to public health that the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, placed tanning beds in the same category as other carcinogens like cigarettes, plutonium and UV radiation from the sun.
Thirty states now have laws banning teenagers from tanning salons, with Texas' being the most strict, banning those under 15 years of age. However, these laws can be circumvented with a permission slip signed by a parent. Hey, parents, you are putting your kids in danger, here! Would you give your kid permission slips to buy cigarettes or booze if they're underage? Hopefully not.
The tanning beds are in the same category. It's use is life-threatening. So, be a responsible parent and say no to tanning salons. And, all of you young adults who believe they're invincible—you're not! So far, there's no magic pill on the market for melanoma. Believe me, you don't want that call from the dermatologist telling you that mole she removed was melanoma—it's a life-changing disaster.